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Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  8,242 ratings  ·  896 reviews
In David Lipsky’s view, David Foster Wallace was the best young writer in America. Wallace’s pieces for Harper’s magazine in the ’90s were, according to Lipsky, “like hearing for the first time the brain voice of everybody I knew: Here was how we all talked, experienced, thought. It was like smelling the damp in the air, seeing the first flash from a storm a mile away. You ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published April 13th 2010 by Broadway
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Cole Heideman old question, but for new askers- this book is great for both DFW noobs, and people who have read IJ or anything else by him, particularly Broom of th…moreold question, but for new askers- this book is great for both DFW noobs, and people who have read IJ or anything else by him, particularly Broom of the System and Brief Interviews with Hideous Men. It provides broad overviews of the themes of those books and DFW's work in general.(less)

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Dec 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dfw, interviews
A Brief Introduction

I recently saw the film version of this and was pleased with it as a rather tasteful adaptation. There were a lot of tender moments and while it was rather surreal to see DFW as a character portrayed in a film, Jason Segel gives a solid performance as Wallace. He captured the characteristic essence of Wallace, complete with anxiety and winces, without over-doing it as a bizarre caricature (a friend of mine complimented Segel for 'not aping DFW'). What struck me most still was
Jun 27, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: life-writing
When it comes to David Foster Wallace, I’m not exactly a ‘howling fantod’—more of a casual admirer—but I still find it difficult to write about him without getting sappy. What made his death that much harder to take was the sense that we’d lost, not just a good writer, but a good man. And there isn’t such a plentiful supply of either quantity lying around that we can afford to be blasé about it.

On my emotional map of world literature, Wallace is right next door to George Orwell—which is odd bec
Jun 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
I'm really conflicted about this book. The bulk of it is just David Foster Wallace talking, and those parts are great. So many of DFW's essays are conversational, so a long transcribed conversation feels like a natural extension of his work. What really sucks, though, is that I think I hate David Lipsky. Like serious full-on loathing of his persona and the way he handled both the interview and the editing of the book.

This book has the feel of a first draft. It reads like Lipsky transcribed the i
Feb 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It's a transcript of a long conversation between two writers: David Foster Wallace and David Lipsky. I decided to read the book after seeing the movie version, "The End of the Tour," which I also loved.

DFW had such a keen mind that I was totally engrossed with this dialogue. Lipsky met with Wallace in March 1996, just a few weeks after Infinite Jest was first published. They talked about so many things -- books, movies, culture, relationships, the writing life, and most movin
Mar 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
A number of things I learned from reading David Lipsky’s “Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, A Road Trip With David Foster Wallace”:

- David Foster Wallace, in conversation, was an incredibly friendly, energetic talker. His interactions with Lipsky, as well as reading tour organizers, literati, press, the service industry, fans, escorts (the book tour kind, not the sex-worker kind), etc. exuded humor, patience, guarded sincerity, a natural empathy and attempt at understanding other
Feb 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
If there had been three copies of this book given to Connor last week instead of two I would own my very own copy of this. Right now this book would be on my bookcase, figuratively (but not actually, because I have no order to my books) between my copies of Everything and More and Oblivion, aka the DFW books I'd been 'saving' for a rainy day to stave off the long periods between his work, that will now most likely never be read because that perfect day to read them will never come and because th ...more
Sep 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
“I think the reason why people behave in an ugly manner is that it’s really scary to be alive and to be human, and people are really really afraid.”
― DFW, quoted by David Lipsky in Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself


At first, I thought Lipsky was kind of operating in that opportunist zone (and I'm sure there is a little of that, b/c journalism never can claim to be opportunist-free). Lipsky had, packed away, tapes and tapes of unused RS interviews with DFW. DFW has just killed hims
Jul 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
Back in my misspent early twenties I labored for far longer than was prudent on a short story. The story involved a young writer who had stumbled into becoming the epicenter of the cultural zeitgeist of his day. People were so enamored with his thoughts and found his insights so refreshing that the books themselves soon became superfluous. When the corporate overlord types realized that the fans were getting an adequate fix from merely basking in his aura at readings and the occasional late nigh ...more
Mar 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
I'm constantly at a loss for words, or just generally inarticulate whenever I attempt to explain why I think David Foster Wallace is such an extremely important writer and thinker. These attempts often result in an adjective-laden stream of fawning praise; the sort of comments that I try to avoid when I can. In the end, I'm just too frustrated to speak or write, especially when I'm left with the task of defending him in a social environment. And I'm now especially frustrated because there are so ...more
Sep 13, 2010 rated it it was ok
There are really two books here: the book Lipsky seems to think it is--reflected in his framing devices--and the one that emerges from Wallace's words. The latter is fascinating, troubling, complicated, messy, occasionally banal, occasionally beautiful--a kind of stream of raw data that I grappled with, even (or especially) as I dealt with my inevitable guilt at exploiting public mourning and cultish genius-worship.

Unfortunately, and embarrassingly, Lipsky believes this is a book about _his_ gro
Tom Quinn
Jan 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I first read "Infinite Jest" in 2016. 20 years late, but in my defense I was only 11 when it was first published and hardly equipped to read such a masterwork -- not mentally, not emotionally, and probably not even physically capable of lifting the sucker. I am glad I read it at age 31, since it's a sad book that is made much more poignant with the experience of time. I read it, and I felt such a personal connection that I was surprised, really taken aback and impressed by how this man, this Wal ...more
Sean Gibson
May 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Lipsky’s account of the five days he spent interviewing David Foster Wallace at the end of Wallace’s 1996 tour for the celebrated and densely impenetrable doorstop Infinite Jest is both an indelible and achingly realized snapshot of a time that no longer exists and a meditative discourse on literature, mental health, technology, addiction, the creative process, and authenticity.

It resonated with me for two primary reasons: 1) I worked in the commercial publishing world just after Infinite Jest’
Apr 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010
This is the only book I've ever pre-ordered from Amazon. Its structure and content are no secret - it's right there in the title. The road trip in question took place as DFW was winding down the book tour for Infinite Jest ; David Lipsky had been assigned to interview him for Rolling Stone. That interview never came to fruition - instead, Lipsky brings us this account of their 5-day road trip from March 1996.

I thought I'd devour it in one sitting, but it actually took a while to warm up to it
Aug 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
A fascinating read, primarily because this type of book is so rare. I felt the same way about this as I did Stephen King’s On Writing, however the primary difference was I had a slight feeling of guilt and pervasion and voyeuristic shame after delving into this partially “off the record” account of Lipsky’s time with Wallace. There is nothing new I learned about Wallace the person in here but there was plenty I learned about his creative process. There’s no comment to be made on the style/prose ...more
Mar 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
One of Stephen King's greatest characters ever, Roland Deschain of Gilead, was a Gunslinger. In King's universe, a Gunslinger was a kind of "walking justice" that roamed the worlds trying to keep order where disorder reigned. These men were by no means sages or smiling monks. They were filled with a sense of right and wrong in the world that made them lethal when they needed to be. But it was their knowledge, their ability to understand others around them, that made them best suited for their jo ...more
Jun 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This 300-page interview reads like a transcript of the best conversation you've ever had in your life, with the most interesting, erudite, and cleverest person you've ever known. It made me want to go back in time to my college years and seek out the people I knew then who used to set my brain on fire with our 2 a.m. debates about what it means to be alive, and how best to be an above-average human being. Above all, this book made me wish that I still had friends like that in my life and, perhap ...more
Nov 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
Oh how we enjoy glimpsing beautiful minds. Lipsky presents the mostly likable genius in a mostly interesting way. I have to admit, though, that I was probably looking too hard for signs of the tragic loss that was to come. DFW’s self-consciousness about how different he was seemed to clash with his Dale Carnegie cum cool exterior. I read the Afterword last, despite its placement at the beginning, and I think it was better to do it that way. It discussed the years after the interview, especially ...more
Lee Klein
Mar 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
DFW is maybe in the process of achieving literary sainthood, so this transcript is like a textual shroud of Turin. The open rawness of watching DFW "wrestle with burly psychic self-consciousness figures" and talk in "crazy circles" lets you spend some serious time with the three-dimensional writer saint himself. Lots of riffs were familiar from essays/other interviews, but this seems like the real raw thing, a pretty comprehensive swipe at everything important to him at the time, all of it anima ...more
M. Sarki
Jun 07, 2011 rated it it was ok
Not nearly as good as I originally gave it credit as being on my first read. I believe I was too emotionally involved back then and my love affair with all things Wallace clouded my judgment. After watching the film based on this book, and the horrid and pathetic character David Lipsky was portrayed as, I could not read a page without seeing this person and making me sick to my stomach. I think the interview actually sucked now, and just the opportunity back when the book first came out for me t ...more
May 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
Sure, you were sometimes kind of a jerk, Lipsky, with your relentless, page-after-PAGE obsession with getting Dave to admit that he was revelling in his slender post-IJ fame...but I'm deeply grateful to you anyway, for hustling this into print and giving me a few more hours with the guy. I really needed them, today. So thanks again, for that—and for having grown up quite a bit in between interview and publication, so that you could wryly perceive and admit to us that a) he was mostly yanking you ...more
Adam Floridia
Apr 22, 2011 rated it it was ok
I really, um, like enjoyed. Some of, uh.--ya know, David's [Foster Wallace] insights, commentary, and general analysis of uh things. As he saw them. I didn't [dudn't] care for David's [Lipsky] presentation of the uh interview. In which he like just seems to have really really transcribed the tapes. [Tape ends here]. This means he um uh um recorded all of the--hey lay down [talking to my dog]--anyway. All the hedgers and ya know are like in the book. Plus the--I said lay down--the context is almo ...more
Apr 22, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: nonfict
I hate this author; this may be one of the worst books that I've ever come across. I really like listening to DFW, but somehow the author is able to make the book about himself. And while DFW and his philosophy / outlook are the subject, ultimately I have to judge the book by the author's handling of the subject. Hence, the one-star. This is one of those books that you are embarrassed to have on the shelf. ...more
Carrie (brightbeautifulthings)
It’s been a few years since I picked up a Wallace book. It reminds me of something lovely in my life that went terribly wrong, and judging by the random fits of crying that accompanied starting this book, I’m not over it. Part of me worries that I waited too long to come back to it, but the rest of me thinks I needed that space. Since this isn’t really a novel, I was trying to ease myself back in gently with mixed results.

Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky joins literary fiction author, David F
Scott Rhee
“What writers have is a license and also the freedom to sit---to sit, clench their fists, and make themselves be excruciatingly aware of the stuff that we’re mostly aware of only on a certain level. And that if the writer does his job right, what he basically does is remind the reader of how smart the reader is. Is to wake the reader up to stuff that the reader’s been aware of all the time. And it’s not a question of the writer having more capacity than the average person... It’s that the writer ...more
Sep 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, dfw
I just finished watching the film THE END OF THE TOUR. It was my third or fourth viewing,
(of this excellent film) and each time I come away a bit depressed, saddened by the reality of DFW’s passing. I think David Foster Wallace was a genius, something a man of his insecurities wouldn’t like hearing, but it’s true. And it pains me to think of the great novels he still harbored in that mind. Actor Jason Segel brings DFW to life on the screen for 90 plus minutes in that film, speaking the very wor
Jul 05, 2010 rated it did not like it
My primary issue with this book has to do with David Lipsky and the manner in which he frames his "road trip" with David Foster Wallace. DFW's comments can be refreshing at times, but they are overshadowed by Lipsky's relentless preoccupation with DFW's fame and past addictions. This keeps the narrative from progressing and limits it to a repetitive repertoire. Additionally, Lipsky's use of bracketed commentary comes across as an intrusive attempt at interpreting DFW's statements for the reader. ...more
Ed Raso
May 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
**12/1/15 - I wanted to read this again after having seen the movie.

Everyone knows that DFW was presciently smart. What makes this book so interesting to me is that it reveals how Wallace was getting to a place where he focused on wisdom.. And that part of his persona is what , I'm sure, enabled him to write with as much depth as he did.

"Sell your cleverness and buy bewildernment" pretty much sums it up, I think.
May 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“I think you can expect that somebody who’s willing to read and read hard a thousand-page book is gonna be somebody with some loneliness issues. Or somebody who’s looking, somebody like ME or perhaps like YOU, who isn't always able to get the sense of intimacy they need. You know, in regular day-to-day intercourse. So that, I think it was really more that they were lookin’ for a friend.”

Why is David Foster Wallace such a magnet for sensitive, deep-thinking people? I came to DFW years ago fir
Jun 09, 2021 rated it it was ok
Lipsky is way more interested in dissecting Wallace than he is understanding him. Which is just a huge problem. Not to mention how irritating the structure, form, style, etc. are. Lipsky makes outright judgements of Wallace’s character in occasional brackets which read more like jealous and insecure journal entries than they do internal notes or whatever. It’s also clear that Lipsky didn’t get the book (IJ), which statement makes it sound like I’m some sort of authority on the text—I’m not—but e ...more
Sep 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: on-my-shelves
Full Disclosure: I am a huge DFW fan, so, ya know, there was very little chance I wasn't going to like this "book".

I say "book" because it's not really a book in the traditional sense, more just a 310 page interview with David Foster Wallace during the last leg of his Infinite Jest book tour in 1996. A lot of what DFW talks about, as far as certain ideas about television, technology, entertainment, addiction, America, etc, I'd already read in other interviews (the best interview I've read with i
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David Lipsky is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone magazine. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, The Best American Short Stories, The Best American Magazine Writing, The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, and many other publications. He contributes as an essayist to NPR's All Things Considered, and is the recipient of a Lambert Fellowship ...more

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35 likes · 1 comments
“David Foster Wallace: I think the reason why people behave in an ugly manner is that it’s really scary to be alive and to be human, and people are really really afraid. And that the reasons…

That the fear is the basic condition, and there are all kinds of reasons for why we’re so afraid. But the fact of the matter is, is that, is that the job that we’re here to do is to learn how to live in a way that we’re not terrified all the time. And not in a position of using all kinds of different things, and using people to keep that kind of terror at bay. That is my personal opinion.

Well for me, as an American male, the face I’d put on the terror is the dawning realization that nothing’s enough, you know? That no pleasure is enough, that no achievement is enough. That there’s a kind of queer dissatisfaction or emptiness at the core of the self that is unassuageable by outside stuff. And my guess is that that’s been what’s going on, ever since people were hitting each other over the head with clubs. Though describable in a number of different words and cultural argots. And that our particular challenge is that there’s never been more and better stuff comin’ from the outside, that seems temporarily to sort of fill the hole or drown out the hole.

Personally, I believe that if it’s assuageable in any way it’s by internal means. And I don’t know what that means. I think it’s fine in some way. I think it’s probably assuageable by internal means. I think those internal means have to be earned and developed, and it has something to do with, um, um, the pop-psych phrase is lovin’ yourself.

It’s more like, if you can think of times in your life that you’ve treated people with extraordinary decency and love, and pure uninterested concern, just because they were valuable as human beings. The ability to do that with ourselves. To treat ourselves the way we would treat a really good, precious friend. Or a tiny child of ours that we absolutely loved more than life itself. And I think it’s probably possible to achieve that. I think part of the job we’re here for is to learn how to do this.”
“And I think that the ultimate way you and I get lucky is if you have some success early in life, you get to find out early it doesn't mean anything. Which means you get to start early the work of figuring out what does mean something -- David Foster Wallace” 33 likes
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